Howard Smith Wharf Ferry Terminal

For Jagera people, Kangaroo Point is most sacred 
because that is where we could first see 
the morning light (before colonisation) 
                              - Kevin Vieritz (1958 - 2015)

During the 1974 Brisbane floods I was in a police car on the Storey Bridge looking down at Howard Smith Wharves on the Bowen Terrace Fortitude Valley side and Evans Deakin Shipyard on the Kangaroo Point side. Both sides were flooded. The Robert E. Miller broke it’s steel cables and reared out into the river threatened to sink and create a huge dam in the raging torrent with catastrophic consequences. This is an indication of how fragile the biggest engineering feats are in the face of nature.

In 2009 Former Lord Mayor Campbell Newman supported the Howard Smith Wharf development. Now it is a reality but protests have not disappeared. WBT has reported on these objections as long ago as 2015 but here we are in 2020 and this development is still upsetting local residents. Please read the objection submitted to council below about the location of the ferry service near the wharves – Editor

Image: The Robert E Miller during the 1974 floods from above the Howard Smith wharves.


Why the ferry terminal should be located at the south-east end of the Howard Smith Wharves site (not as proposed by Brisbane City Council):

  1. BCC’s proposed location benefits HSW businesses to the detriment of the broader public
  2. BCC’s proposed location blocks the concrete terraces; the only location at HSW where the public can directly access the river’s edge
  3. BCC’s proposed location blocks the public’s view from the concrete terraces. This is the only section of the riverside that has not been turned into a commercial, outdoor bar area and/or space regularly closed off for private functions. The terraces were part of the original plans that convinced the public to accept the development of HSW as a great outdoor space anyone could use. This alteration would breach the terms of the original application which the public trusted Council would uphold. Already negligible non-commercial premium public parkland remains at HSW

The terminal should be located closer to the new lift at the south-east end of the site for the following reasons:

  • quicker and easier pedestrian connection and integration with existing public transport infrastructure on Brunswick Street including the 195/196/199 buses, and the 470 bus on James Street
  • quicker and easier pedestrian connection to shops and restaurants in the DC1 District Centre along Brunswick Street. (Zoned for “retail, commercial, residential, offices, administrative and health services, community, small-scale entertainment and recreational facilities”)
  • quicker and easier pedestrian connection to apartments in the densely populated residential areas in the MDR Zone along Bowen Terrace and Moray Street
  • quicker and easier pedestrian connection to the LMR Zone, primarily between Brunswick and James Street, which contains low-income housing, boarding houses, flats and units. Many of these residents are reliant upon public transport as their primary mode of transport.
  • reduction of the pedestrian load on the already dangerous, overpopulated, narrow, shared pedestrian/bicycle route through HSW, by instead delivering the intended users closer to the lift and into residential areas and long-established commercial centres along Brunswick Street 
  • The congested commuter connections for cyclists, joggers and people walking between New Farm, the Valley and the CBD have already been further compromised by poor design, over commercialisation, uncontested developer bracket creep, constant cars, trucks and drunk people all sharing the same narrowing path. There should be separate paths for each with clear signage and delineation. Adding ferry traffic into this mix at this location exacerbates the existing unresolved problems. 
  • BCC’s own planning report states: ”The revitalised HSW precinct represents an opportunity for Council […] to provide ferry services to the popular lifestyle and entertainment precinct” and “encourage the use of public transport associated with one of Brisbane’s premier recreation and lifestyle precincts”. Yet BCC simultaneously ignores the opportunities for connection and integration with the existing bus network, existing businesses along Brunswick Street, and existing densely populated areas of residential New Farm. 
  • Even before COVID-19, many restaurants and bars in Brunswick St and the areas around HSW had suffered or closed because HSW took most of their clientele. For BCC to then deny optimum public transport connectivity to remaining businesses and residents with this expensive, but poorly placed new initiative in a depressed economic world would be even more reckless.
  • Differently physically abled people especially need access to the most direct public transport connections, especially in the Brisbane sun and storms. While not suggesting there need be any additional undercover areas, the distances between ferry, lift and buses should be minimised.
  • BCC has already failed the general public myriad times at HSW by not issuing numerous Notices To Reverse Work on the HSW developer’s excessive and ever expanding bracket creep occupation of public space, the length and breadth of HSW including at the drop off point and heritage bridge pylons. People are forced to run the gauntlet around the black boxes. If BCC were to spend millions of dollars of public money on this additional destruction of premium public space (the terraces), this would represent a massive breach of public trust and mismanagement of public funds and space. Don’t steal and/or spoil any more premium public space.
  • In this proposal, the location of the ferry is like the escalator at a Westfield shopping centre: it makes people walk the long way, more for the commercial profiteering of HSW than actual public transport utility. 

In designing the new ferry stop for the south-eastern end of HSW, BCC should factor in the re-design of the bike path to be a safe and fit for purpose transit lane as the “Primary cycling corridor” it is listed as, under the BCC City Plan 2014.

Advertised in a couple of small signs outside the HSW precinct on Bowen Tce at this time of COVID-19 isolation, nowhere to be seen along the commuter path at HSW, this proposal already reeks of an attempt by Council to sneak this through under the radar at a time when people are distracted. People could easily commute through the HSW site multiple times a day and never have seen the notice of this proposal.

The terminal should be better located for the benefit of all, not just the bars, restaurants and businesses of Howard Smith Wharves. 

Kangaroo Point from Bowen Terrace. State Library of Queensland

Submissions on this development can be made by emailing local members and members of the new planning committee of the BCC.


One thought on “Howard Smith Wharf Ferry Terminal

  1. Objections on Ferry Terminal says:

    Submissions on this development can be made by emailing local members and members of the new planning committee of the BCC.

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